For You, Easy. For Me, Difficult
OVER THE YEARS I HAVE SEEN A LOT OF COMEDIANS. Most of them ranged from dismal to really good. There was a different level for those above “Really Good.” Those were the “Classics,” the “Geniuses, “and the “Made me laugh out loud.” There aren’t too many that made it into that last group. One who did make me laugh out loud every time was a Comedian I’ll bet you never heard of. If you are under 40 years of age I’d put money on it.
The person I’m talking about was a Spanish ventriloquist named Wenceslao Moreno. He performed under the stage name of Señor Wences.
Most ventriloquists perform with elaborate mechanical dummies that behave like miniature human beings. Senor Wences’ act was considerably different. He interacted with two “dummies,” – “Johnny”, a childlike face drawn on Wences’ hand, topped with a tiny wig. The other dummy was “Pedro” whose entire earthly presence was as a disembodied head in a box. I know that it all sounds hokey and absurd, but Señor Wences was so skilled that he pulled it off to the delight of audiences worldwide.
I have included at the end of today’s blog a couple of links so you can see what I’m talking about.
I grew up watching Señor Wences on the Ed Sullivan Show. According to Wikipedia he, Johnny and Pedro appeared on that staple of Sunday night television 48 times. I bet I saw every one of his appearances. I was a strange kid.
Señor Wences got into the Show Biz game because his first career choice just didn’t work out. He was a Bullfighter. The bull didn’t think he was very funny and just about killed him. As a part of his recovery therapy his doctor suggest that he exercise his wounded arm to regain full usage…so he learned how to juggle and ended up joining a circus. In later years he often included “Plate Spinning” into his act. If you have no idea what that is I am positive that you never watched Ed Sullivan.
It always seemed to me that Señor Wences was an old man. That’s because he was. He was born in 1896 for cryin’ out loud! That was fifty years before me! Unlike me he didn’t retire as soon as the opportunity presented itself. He finally hung up Johnny and Pedro at the age of 100, three years before passing on to that great stage show in the sky.
I understand that Señor Wences is not everybody’s cup of tea. My wife, the lovely and a good audience, Dawn told me that she always found Señor Wences and his strange friends to be “Somewhat creepy.” I can’t really argue with her about that. That may be part of what made me such a big fan of his. Young boys like things that are “Somewhat creepy. Some of us still do.